‘Diviners,’ ‘Gypsy’ lead schools’ 2002 theater parade

Tom Titus

Editor’s Note: This is the second of two columns reviewing the

year 2002 in Huntington Beach.

Educational theater in Huntington Beach -- the sort practiced by

Golden West College and the Academy for the Performing Arts at

Huntington Beach High School -- made some impressive strides during

the year.

Golden West gave its audiences some widely varied fare in 2002,

ranging from Greek tragedy to Gilbert and Sullivan operetta to rural

tragedy to sophisticated comedy. Meanwhile, the academy’s two

musicals scored highly not only with audiences but with judges in

Southern California’s Music and Arts Commendation for Youth awards.

So which shows made the biggest impression? From this corner, they

were “The Diviners” at Golden West and “Gypsy” by Huntington Beach

High’s program.

“Diviners,” directed by Tom Amen, proved a particularly engrossing

drama, focusing on a mentally challenged youth in 1930s Indiana with

a particular talent for discovering water -- and a devout aversion to

the wet stuff. The Jim Leonard play was superbly staged and inspired

some outstanding performances.

Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Pirates of Penzance,” staged by Grant

Rosen, ranked second on Golden West’s hit parade for the year,

followed by Sophocles’ “Oedipus Rex” and Philip Barry’s “Holiday,”

both directed by Amen.

Top acting honors at the college go to Josh Matheson, who played

the tragic Buddy in “The Diviners,” and Tara Redpenning as the

wallflower younger sister who usurps her sibling’s fiance in


Other notable performances were turned in by Mard Bedard in

“Oedipus” and “Diviners,” Thomas Patrick and Edward C. Bangasser in

“Pirates,” Stephen Silva for “Oedipus” and Nick Cook in “Holiday.”

“Gypsy,” directed by Tim Nelson for the Academy for the Performing

Arts, not only enchanted local audiences, but took several honors at

the MACYs. The musical based on the coming of age of Gypsy Rose Lee

was judged the best show from all of the Southland schools performing

musicals and earned statuettes for a number of its performances.

This column’s personal “best performance” award goes, likewise, to

Kellie Nitkin, who played Mama Rose in “Gypsy,” while Katherine

McLaughlin ranks a close second as Louise/Gypsy.

Other memorable portrayals came from cast members in the academy’s

other musical of 2002, “Side Show.” Amie Shapiro and Nicole Gerardi

-- the Siamese twins around whom the show centered -- performed

splendidly both individually and as an attached set. A big hand also

to “D” Pull, prominently featured in “Gypsy” and “Side Show.”

* TOM TITUS reviews local theater for the Independent.